|By Clyde Lewis
The week of the Holy symbolizes the hope that through the blood of a fallen prophet all mankind is saved from the taste of death. The story will be told in Christian churches throughout the world but the hidden stories will not be told. Many claim that these stories were excised from the original Bible. The artists have given us an image of Jesus that has been taken as gospel. Yet the very personality of Jesus in scripture is very vague. So it seems that even God needs an editor and special effects team.
There was a time in history where churches and religious dogma provided answers for which there were no solutions. With the advances of technology and science many myths and misguided theories often die off and become the joke of a post modern society that slowly breaks away from what they see as a controlling belief.
However it could very well be a lonely existence if we decide to reject our ancient heroes, prophets and kings. They give us nobility and a hope for the future. Humans seem to have this "saving grace" hope that no matter what goes wrong in the world there will always be someone there to protect it from harm.
Whether it be an unseen God, a carpenterís son from Nazareth, or even a benevolent extra terrestrial race.
I have always contended that we have an uncanny knack for giving our gods faces that are anthropomorphic without even thinking that perhaps we have committed the sin of creating an homage and worshipping it as if it were real.
After all, if you were familiar with the New Testament and the Corinthians you would see that the Apostle Paul denounced the images of Godís that were worshipped as blasphemous.
In his letter to the Church in Corinth Paul scolded the leaders for allowing the worship of the graven image which of course was ignored and subsequently downplayed by clerics thousands of years later.
At the risk of overburdening you with religious argument, it is clear that Paul was troubled at the activities of the early Christians and yet there are those who do not feel the least bit guilty when they take the lifeless and horrific image of a man with his eyes rolled back into his head, bleeding on a cross and pray to it.
The Apostle Paul was quite clear when he stated that the preaching of the cross is foolish without believing in the power of God and yet it adorns every church and is held as a holy graven image sold as pieces of art and as good luck charms. He warned the church that it is not wise to pay respects to statues and idols that have eyes that canít see, ears that canít hear, and hands that cannot touch yet the images of Christ are as different as flavors of Ice Cream.
The images of Christ, and Mary find themselves in the oddest of places and crosses form in anomalous simulacra on walls and blended light inspiring those who believe that the image is more powerful than the reality. In truth it probably is but it can be to the detriment of faith when we eventually realize that the image of God we are comfortable with is far from the image that makes the reality.
You donít have to believe that Jesus is the son of God to look at the images of him and not be moved. That is what the whole show is about. Itís the salesmanship of the whole affair.
People are realizing that they can shop for religion and buy a token or talisman that has the dying Jesus on it and feel good about their position in life. They can go to various dioramas and art exhibits and decayed buildings and still feel that they are religious. Itís disposable and somewhat misleading. They can buy bibles, and rosaries, crucifixes and all sorts of religious trinkets and still avoid stepping into a church.
The trend in religion is bleak and the picture that is being painted by the clergy makes us wonder if there is a sinister force at work. The idea of selling Jesus to the highest bidder has become a parody of itself and people are beginning to see through it.
So what is the truth? What is being glossed over with a coat of paint every thousand years and what does the future hold for various religions around the world?
The truth is not popular. It isnít neatly placed in a box or displayed on a Shroud. It begins with alleged existence of a man that has been made into super god by artistic license.
Jesus was never a white man with a beard standing tall and proud like the Greek impressionists have shown us. He was not a great presence that had the appearance of cleanliness with bright white robes and straight teeth. He probably did not have perfect eyebrows or even perfect skin.
How could he?
He lived thousands of years ago, he was a poor man and with all of the troubles he faced probably had his own demons to conquer.
The romanticism of Jesus gives way to the delusion that he had to have been perfect because he was a God. Yet we forget that Jesus lived as a human and revealed his true image after his transfiguration and resurrection.
He lived as a human. It can be argued that artists and myth makers made him a god. Perhaps he was more than that, but for the sake of argument let us be logical.
He was Jewish and so we must assume that his fair skin depicted in paintings is false. He was probably less than five feet tall very different from the tall and mighty man shown on the walls of Churches. He also may have had weathered hands, and parched skin, decaying crooked teeth and oily hair. He had to have been haunched over and quite possibly hunchbacked from the beatings and scourges he received repeatedly in his lifetime for his beliefs.
If Jesus appeared as the art exhibits depict him then there would be no doubt as to who he was. He would have commanded a larger following. But he didnít and at his time of dire need he was denied by his disciples and rejected by his people. He was left to die a criminal and was buried in a borrowed sepulchre.
It is so easy to buy a picture of Jesus and know he is your lord. However you must contemplate your place in Christianity if you were all of a sudden beamed into the presence of a man whose appearance looked more like a Hermit than a son of God. Would you worship him then?
If you woke up tomorrow and found out that Jesus Christ was a small, unibrowed, hunchbacked, unkempt man, who was always made to look foolish by Romans and detractors would you follow him?
Your answer is only yours. But in my experience and with human nature on my side I can answer for you. The answer would be no.
Itís easier to believe in that wallet size Jesus that you kneel to. Itís easier for people to line up to see the image of Mary in a Tree and hope that the image will give them some solace. But put Jesus in the same image as someone like Charles Manson and people would ignore or perhaps flee.
It has been the pride filled jeer of the humble Christians to be yelling hooray for their side because their beautiful God demands that people succumb to their imposed moralities and dogmas. However the truth is slowly being revealed and Churches are becoming worn out dinosaurs weighed down by an accumulation of gaudy empty buildings, which the corporate branch of the particular religious organization cannot afford to maintain. Soon the image will go full circle. The ornate will become rudimentary. This is what the various churches fear. The aesthetics of the religious experience may disappear.
Thus we see the graven image do its damage to religion. Giving religion the equivalent of gold will have its consequences.
It will then be the norm for religions to do things to keep the postmodern society happy. Like sexual equality in the clergy, online spiritual thoughts, e-mail confessionals and online services. Churches themselves could be spiritual clinics where people can go for a spiritual overhaul when the online and impersonal wonít do.
Churches will also have to come clean by telling the truth about the Bible and how it was edited to allow a more vague look into the personality of Jesus. Attempts have been made to open peopleís minds to the Apocryphal scriptures and what they have said about the Christ and his position on ornate imagery and the dressing up of religion.
The Gospel of St. Thomas is scripture from the New Testament that never made it into the Bible and yet it has within it candid moments with Jesus. It was discovered in 1945 and has 114 sayings that are attributed to Jesus Christ and yet the churches do not accept it as gospel. It has been edited out of the Bible.
Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all."
I suppose that it is evident why these scriptures were taken from the Bible. Jesus saying that when you find what it is that you are seeking you may find yourself disturbed by it. It may make you marvel the possibilities. It may make you ask questions. Something we have been told not to do by our pious religious leaders.
Jesus said, "If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the Father's kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Fatherís kingdom is within you and it is outside you."
It also teaches that Christ believed in being self reliant and that if you pay attention to what is happening all around you the hidden things will be revealed to you. Christ also spoke in metaphor, he spoke of revolution and he also spoke like a man. Using slang and uttering words that would appear to be coarse.
The Gospels we are familiar with are a lot less open and Jesus sounds like a poetic muse in the Bible we read in church, rather than a revolutionary and boastful leader whose disciples were fascinated at his every whim. It gives Jesus a human personality and not a pious one. It also shows us that Jesus spoke in a colorful way, much like a cult leader, or a revolutionary leading a rebellion. There are also a few colorful things said about women, which would anger many womenís organizations.
No one really knows why there are only four gospels recognized. There were many Gospels that were in the Bible at first but for obvious reasons the texts had been edited down and many criticize it because it seems the Gospels are repetitive and gave a watered down account of the true personality of Jesus Christ.
In a number of places Mathew and Luke provide scripture that is word for word the same. However in the book of Mark there is some difference. It is also a fact that not one of the earliest manuscripts has a signature indicating just who authored the four gospels. So we canít know for sure who wrote them.
The story of Jesus arrest and subsequent trial are also vague. No one knows what actually occurred. The narratives in the Bible are open for interpretation. So without more accounts we have to go on what has been laid out in the Bible. There have been controversial accounts of Jesus arrest on Passover evening. He received a night trial before the high priest and the Jewish Court. The High priests could not find two witnesses who had congruent testimony against Jesus.
Jewish law required this.
When Jesus admitted to being the Christ the high priest flew into a rage and tore Jesus clothes. Jesus was then condemned and was told that he deserved to die.
Jesus was then brought before Pilate. This of course was in violation of Jewish law. Night trials for capital crimes were unheard of and required that a guilty verdict be delayed for one day after trial.
Luke however does not indicate a night trial in the scriptures. He makes no mention of witnesses or any testimony. He only indicates that Peter was accused of knowing Jesus and each time denied that he was in the presence of his Lord.
Luke does not even mention a formal verdict from the Sanhedrin. The trial of Jesus is more dramatic in the missing texts than in the Gospels and it is much uglier than formal. Jesus was mocked, denied, accused, beaten, and unfairly executed. But he went willingly. To indicate that Christ was suicidal would be heretical however the missing texts show that his actions showed that he was not about to fight for his life and that his betrayal by Judas was a carefully planned out ritual. It was as if Jesus wanted the Jewish courts to put him to death.
There is also the theory that Jesus had died as a result of a mistake. That when Pilate granted amnesty to one Jewish prisoner he had hoped that the people would see that Jesus was innocent and demand the death of Barabbas who by historic accounts was a rebel who committed murder during an insurrection against Rome. Pilate assumed that the crowd would condemn Barabbas because he was a guerrilla leader. The plan backfired. The mob cried for the release of Barabbas and Jesus was later crucified. He hung on a cross in the midst of two other criminals.
It is an ugly speculation that Jesus died because the Jewish mob wanted to spare the life of a rebel. Uglier still is the thought of his execution and like most criminals who go to the chair or the firing squad lost the will to live and in a lot of ways welcomed his own death.
He was executed with no evidence of a crime committed. He was the casualty of capital punishment. It is the first lesson of how the justice system can have flaws and how the innocent can die at the hands of government and the guilty walk free. How ironic that 2000 years later it is realized that 70 percent of Americans who consider themselves Christian believe in a form of punishment that killed their leader. Sometimes itís hard to understand human behavior.
If the romanticism of Jesus is what fuels your faith then perhaps it will serve you until you find out the truth. Many uncertainties persist about him and the Bible paints a vague picture of Jesus. That alone should convince you that the artists who sell you a Jesus stamp have probably embellished the features of a simple man who died a criminal and then became the leader of one of the largest religions in the western world. Whatever your attitude is about what I have written, you have to admit that if what I say is true, Jesus was more powerful and more of a threat to Rome than perhaps we realize.
After all if a man with features that resembled a hermit could convince 12 men to follow him and countless others then perhaps he was more than just a fallen prophet.
Copyright 1998-2007 Ground Zero Media, Clyde Lewis, and John Hart. All Rights Reserved.